I decided to test out my skills against the computer A.I in an exhibition match before I attempted anything as insane as online or local co-op. I was up against The Cleveland Cavaliers for my inaugural match and knowing essentially nothing about basketball I opted to play as The Boston Celtics because I have vague memories of them being quite good in previous NBA titles.
While the Boston Celtics may have been good, I could use some practice, especially regarding the controls. Those unfamiliar with previous NBA titles may find the control system a bit frustrating in the beginning as the commands change depending on whether you are attacking or defending.(“Did I leave the stove on?)
The left analogue is for the movement of your player, X to pass, R2 to sprint, standard enough, unfortunately that’s where the simplicity ends. Triangle can’t simply command one action, oh no, it covers Lob Passes/Alley-Oops/Blocking and Rebounding. However, whether or not the game will interpret your commands correctly is in the fickle hands of fate.
And if you thought the right analogue stick was for the camera, then you’re out of luck fucko. In NBA2K18 it’s used as a skill/trick button that also doubles as your shoot button (fun, right?). If your timing is good, you’ll see a small bar and sink a bucket every time, if not you’ll be put on the defensive. Luckily you could always use square to shoot if that all seems like a convoluted mess to you. While all of this may seem daunting at first (because it is), it does offer the player a few different play styles, so you’re bound to find one that works for you.(Just don’t hit the punch in balls button.)
It seems that 2K have made good on their promise to improve the visuals, as the level of detail on everything from the players to the kits is fantastic. They really have gone all out on tweaking the finer details, such as how the players move and behave, like real people. Or how the clothes react when the player moves or runs, small improvements perhaps but the add much to the experience.
Even the stadium crowd and mascots blend well together, 2K managed to make the games feel like an actual NBA game. Even the music, while not to my taste, fits the game and does add to the overall atmosphere.
And props to whoever was in charge of load screen transitions because nothing ruins emersion more than waiting around for something to happen, looking at you WWE 2K. The smooth transitioning from highlights/half time back into actual game play managed to keep the pace moving, and in a game like this that’s paramount.
The career mode can be quite entertaining, it’s always fun to create a custom character in a game, whether it’s in an RPG, a wrestling game or a fighting game, and NBA 2K18 is no exception. You start off your career by attending a 2k open day that’s happening in your neighbourhood. You play a few games of basketball and at the end you are approached by a talent scout for whichever NBA team you picked as your favourite. You will then be asked by this scout if you have an agent, again you get to choose, this little touch, among the many others, adds a sense of depth to NBA 2K18, unfortunately it’s just that, a sense.
While there are many things to do in career mode, such as getting a haircut or buying clothes (which all cost “virtual currency” FYI), in order to do any of them, you must walk a long distance through a hub area where you are unable to interact with the other players you meet. Making it feel like it was just added in as a way to advertise and push the games insidious microtransactions on the player.(“We know you payed £45, but we’d like some more money.”)
From its stylish atmosphere to its attention to detail NBA 2K18 has managed to capture the look and feel of a real game of basketball all without sacrificing anything in return. The game play, while a bit intimidating for newbies, is still as fun and stylish as ever. We have been given choice and a certain amount of freedom this time round and for that I will keep returning to NBA 2K18.